Supporting our vulnerable adults

Dad’s Army, Vera Lynn, Pears soap and Bisto help tackle dementia

Reruns of Dad’s Army, Vera Lynn songs, Pears soap and old-style Bisto posters could be the secret to tackling dementia.

With National Dementia Awareness Week* starting yesterday (20 May), they feature among top tips on decorating family homes in a way that reassures loved ones by helping them connect with the past.

Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Michael Gosling. Click image to download

Surrey County Council put together the tips after using them successfully in adult care homes, particularly one called The Cottage.

The top five are:

  • Showing classic television programmes, such as Dad’s Army, and playing favourite songs from the past by the likes of Vera Lynn to trigger memories
  • Putting products in the bathroom such as Pears soap that have an emotive and instantly recognised smell
  • Using posters of old Bisto, tea and coffee adverts in the kitchen as reminders to drink and eat
  • Getting rid of the microwave and the latest ceramic cooker and buying older, simpler equipment dementia sufferers know how to use
  • Installing black toilet seats because they are associated with older style bathrooms.

Other tips include avoiding patterned carpets that confuse and lead to falls, investing in back-lit cupboards, drawers and wardrobes with Perspex fronts that give a view of what is inside and using coloured crockery on a white table.

It is estimated that around 570,000 people in the UK have dementia.

Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Michael Gosling said: “Showing reruns of classic TV shows and using Pears soap may sound like novel approaches but they really work.

“Everyone knows the frustration of waking up in a strange place for the first time and having to spend time working out how to use the lights and this is how it can often feel for people with dementia.

“Surrounding them with objects and smells from the past can trigger good memories and help them feel more at ease while colour and light can help them feel safer.”

* Run by the Alzheimer’s Society, it aims to raise awareness of the condition, which causes memory loss, an inability to finish tasks and the loss of speech and mobility.

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